Inuit

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Inuit
Image:Inuit women 1907.jpg
Inuit woman
Total population 150,000
Regions with significant populations Greenland, Canada, United States, Russia
Language Inuit language,
Eskimo-Aleut languages
Religion Christianity, Shamanism <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th>
<td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Aleuts, Yupiks</td>

</tr>

Inuit (Inuktitut syllabics, singular Inuk) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic coasts of Siberia, Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec, Labrador, and Greenland. Until fairly recent times, there has been a remarkable homogeneity in the culture throughout this area, which traditionally relied on fish, sea mammals, and land animals for food, heat, light, clothing, tools, and shelter. Their language, sometimes incorrectly called Inuktitut, is grouped under Inuit language or Eskimo-Aleut languages.

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference defines its constituency to include Canada's Inuit and Inuvialuit, Greenland's Kalaallit people, Alaska's Inupiaq and Yupik people, and Russia's Yupik. However, the Yupik are not Inuit in the sense of being descended from the Thule and prefer to be called Yupik or Eskimo.

Canadian Inuit live primarily in Nunavut (a territory in Canada), Nunavik (the northern part of Quebec) and in Nunatsiavut (the Inuit settlement region in Labrador). The Inuvialuit live primarily in the Mackenzie River delta, on Banks Island and part of Victoria Island in the Northwest Territories. There have been Inuit settlements in Yukon, especially at Herschel Island, but there are none at present. Alaskan Inupiaq live on the North Slope of Alaska, while the Yupik live in western Alaska and a part of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in Russia.

The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is a national organization in Canada which represents over 40,000 Canadian Inuit.

Contents

[edit] Inuit and First Nations

The Inuit living in North America have in the past been grouped together with other Indigenous Peoples, but they are now thought to have arrived in the continent entirely separately from other First Peoples, long after the disappearance of the Beringia land bridge. Accordingly, in Canada the Inuit do not consider themselves and are not usually considered by others as one of the First Nations, a term which normally applies to more southern regions. However, they, the Native North Americans, and the Métis are collectively recognized by the Canadian constitution as Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Other synonyms for this phrase include "First Nations", "First Peoples", and "Native Peoples", but these terms are generally not used by the Inuit themselves.

[edit] Eskimo

Main article: Eskimo

In Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people, "Inuit" means "the people". The English word "Eskimo" is of uncertain origins, but most likely derives from an Algonquian language. It is widely believed to mean "eater of raw meat", although this meaning is disputed. Many Inuit consider the word Eskimo offensive, but, in absence of any other collective term, it is still in general usage outside of Canada to refer to the tribes of people, including the Inuit, who live at the northern extremities of Asia, Greenland and North America. Canadians tend to use the term Inuit in part a result of the 1977 Inuit Circumpolar Conference. The name Inuit was chosen at this meeting of Inuit from Greenland, Canada, and Alaska, representing a circumpolar population of 150,000.

The term “Eskimo” is also used in some linguistical or ethnographical works to denote the bigger branch of Eskimo-Aleut languages (the other one being Aleut). In this usage, Inuit (together with Yupik, and maybe also Sireniki), are subbranches of Eskimo. See details in articles Eskimo and Eskimo-Aleut languages.

[edit] Anthropological analysis

Inuit physically resemble East Asians. Inuit have some specific characteristics which were thought to differentiate them from the East Asians: dolichocephalic (elongated) heads, stout bodies and tan skin. Their physical appearance is closer to what is generally associated with East Asian peoples than to other Native Americans.

Image:Inuktitut dialect map.png
Distribution of Inuit language variants across the Arctic.

The Inuit were traditionally hunters and fishermen, living off the Arctic animal life. They hunted by preference whales, walruses, caribou and seals, although polar bears, musk oxen, birds, and any other edible animals might be turned to during lean years. The Arctic has very little edible vegetation, although Inuit did supplement their diet with seaweed.

Sea animals were hunted from single-passenger, covered seal-skin boats called qajait (singular qajaq) which were extraordinarily buoyant, and could easily be righted by a seated person, even if completely overturned. Because of this property, the Inuit design was copied—along with the Inuit word—by Europeans who still make and use them under the name kayak. Inuit also made umiaq—larger, open boats made out of skins and bones for transporting people, goods and dogs. In the winter, Inuit would also hunt sea mammals by finding, or sometimes making, the aglu (a breathing hole) in the ice and waiting for the air-breathing seals and walruses to use them when they needed air. According to Inuit tradition, they learned to do this by observing the polar bear, who hunts by seeking out holes in the ice and waiting nearby.

On land, the Inuit used dog sleds (in Inuktitut, qamutiit, singular qamutiq) for transportation. The husky dog breed comes from Inuit breeding of dogs for transportation.They rode trained wolves and dogs to hunt for food. A team of dogs in a fan formation (and not bound together in a line like horse teams) would pull a sled made of animal bones and skins, and in some southern areas a bit of wood, over the snow and ice. They used landmarks to navigate, and possessed a comprehensive native system of toponymy. Where natural landmarks were insufficient, the Inuit would erect an inukshuk to compensate.

Inuit industry relied almost exclusively on animal hides and bones, although some tools were also made out of worked stones, particularly the readily-worked soapstone. Walrus ivory was a particularly essential material, used to make knives. Some Inuit who lived near the tree-line also had native woodworking traditions.

Inuit made clothes and footwear from animal skins, sewn together using needles made from animal bones and threads made from other animal products. The parka is, in essence, the same garment across the Arctic—made in a similar fashion by Arctic peoples from Europe through Asia and the Americas, including by the Inuit. The hoods of Inuit women's parkas—amautiit (singular amauti, amaut or amautik) in Inuktitut—were traditionally made extra large, to protect the baby from the harsh wind when snuggled against the mother's back. Styles vary from region to region, from shape of the hood to length of the tails. Boots (Inuktitut: kamik or mukluk) could be made of caribou or sealskin, and designs varied for men and women. Inuit also lived in temporary shelters made from snow in winter (the famous igloo), and during the few months of the year when temperatures were above freezing, they lived in tents made of animal skins and bones.

The division of labour in traditional society had a strong gender component. The men were traditionally hunters and fishermen. The women took care of the children, cleaned huts, sewed and cooked. However, there are numerous examples of women who learned to hunt out of necessity and more recently as a personal choice.

The marital customs among the Inuit were not strictly monogamous, many Inuit relationships were implicitly or explicitly sexually open, and polygamy, divorce and remarriage were fairly common. Formal marriage and divorce required the approval of the community, and particularly the agreement of the elders. Marriages were often arranged, sometimes in infancy, and occasionally forced on the couple by the community. Marriage was expected for a man as soon as he could hunt for himself, and for women at puberty. Family structure was flexible—a household might consist of a man and his wife or wives and children; it might include his parents or his wife's parents as well as adopted children; or it might be a larger formation of several siblings with their parents, wives and children; or even more than one family sharing dwellings and resources. Every household had a head of household—an elder or a particularly respected man.

There was also a larger notion of community, generally several families who shared a place where they wintered. Goods were shared within a household, and to a lesser extent within a whole community in winter. As with most nomadic people, there was no real conception of ownership of land—if a spot was unoccupied, all were free to hunt or camp there. Animals belonged first to the hunter or trapper, then to his household.

Nearly all Inuit cultures have oral traditions of raids by Indians and fellow Inuit, and of taking vengeance on them in return. Although these tales are generally regarded not as accurate historical accounts but as self-serving myths—violence against outsiders as justified revenge—it does make clear that there was a history of hostile contact between Inuit and other cultures. In Alaska, the Inuit became accomplished raiders through constant feuding. Given the narrow margins of survival, the advantages of supplementing one's hunt by stealing from one's neighbours seem obvious. Even within an Inuit band, breaching traditional justice and wronging another Inuit was routinely punished by murderous vengeance, as the story of Atanarjuat shows. Within a community, punishments were meted out by community decision, or by the elders, and a breach meant that the victim and his or her relatives could seek out restitution or revenge. [1]

There is a pervasive belief that the Inuit left their elderly on the ice to die. This is not generally true. However, sometimes elderly Inuit who could no longer hunt or do other useful work might choose, or be convinced to choose, a form of assisted suicide when food was very scarce. They were not left to die on the ice, but rather were more directly dispatched. This practice was not universal among the Inuit—some bands never had such practices—and was only tolerated under truly desperate conditions. Inuit communities were largely ruled by respected elders, and routine geronticide did not take place. A far more common response to desperate conditions and the threat of starvation was infanticide, which did sometimes entail abandoning an infant in hopes that someone less desperate might find and adopt it before the cold or the wildlife finished it off.

[edit] Traditional Inuit beliefs

See also: Inuit mythology

[edit] Synopsis

Image:Auroraborealissm.jpg
Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen in the northern lights

The Inuit people inhabit the land stretching from southeast Alaska to Greenland, an environment that heavily influenced a mythology filled with adventure tales of whale and walrus hunts. Long winter months of waiting for caribou herds or sitting near breathing holes hunting seals gave birth to stories of mysterious and sudden appearance of ghosts and fantastic creatures. Some Inuit looked into the aurora borealis, or northern lights, to find images of their family and friends dancing in the next life, and they relied upon the shaman, while the nearest thing to a central deity was the Old Woman (Sedna), who lived beneath the sea. The waters, a central food source, were believed to contain great spirits.

[edit] Analysis

The Inuit traditionally practiced a form of shamanism based basically on animist principles. They believed that all things had a form of spirit, just like humans, and that to some extent these spirits could be influenced by a pantheon of supernatural entities that could be appeased when one required some animal or inanimate thing to act in a certain way. The shaman (Inuktitut: angakuq, sometimes spelled angakok) of a community of Inuit was not the leader, but rather a sort of healer and psychotherapist, who tended wounds and offered advice, as well as invoking the spirits to assist people in their lives. His or her role was to see, interpret and exhort the subtle and unseen. Shamans were not trained, they were held to be born with the ability.

Inuit religion was closely tied to a system of rituals that were integrated into the daily life of the people. These rituals were not terribly complicated, but they were held to be absolutely necessary. According to a customary Inuit saying, "The great peril of our existence lies in the fact that our diet consists entirely of souls." By believing that all things—including animals—have souls like those of humans, any hunt that fails to show appropriate respect and customary supplication would only give the liberated spirits cause to avenge themselves.

The harshness and randomness of life in the Arctic ensured that Inuit lived constantly in fear of the uncontrollable, where a streak of bad luck could destroy an entire community. To offend a spirit was to run the risk of having them interfere with an already marginal existence. The Inuit plead with supernatural powers to provide them with the necessities of day-to-day survival. As Knud Rasmussen's Inuit guide told him when asked about Inuit religious beliefs, "We don't believe. We fear!"

[edit] Early history of the Inuit

The Inuit are the descendants of what anthropologists call the Thule culture, a nomadic people who emerged from western Alaska around 1000 and spread eastwards across the Arctic, displacing the related Dorset culture (in Inuktitut, the Tuniit). Inuit legends speak of the Tuniit as "giants", people who were taller and stronger than the Inuit, but who were easily scared off and retreated from the advancing Inuit. Researchers believe that the Dorset culture lacked dogs, boats and other technologies that gave the expanding Inuit society a large advantage over them. By 1300, the Inuit had settled west Greenland, and finally moved into east Greenland over the following century.

The Tuniit survived in AivilikSouthampton and Coats Islands—until the beginning of the 20th century. They were known as Sadlermiut (Sallirmiut in the modern spelling). Their population had been ravaged by diseases brought by contact with Europeans, and the last of them fell in a flu epidemic caught from a passing whaler in 1902. The area has since been resettled by Inuit. Genetic research suggests that there was little or no intermarriage between the Tuniit and the Inuit over the thousand years of contact in the Canadian Arctic.

The Inuit were a nomadic culture that circulated almost exclusively north of the timberline, the de facto southern border of Inuit society. To the south, Native American Indian cultures were well established, and the culture and technology of Inuit society that served them so well in the Arctic was ill-suited to the sub-Arctic, so they did not displace their southern neighbours. Their relations with southerners were generally hostile, but at other times cordial enough to support trade.

The first contact with Europeans came from the Vikings, who settled Greenland and explored the eastern Canadian coast. Norse literature speaks of skrælingar, most likely an undifferentiated label for all the native peoples of the Americas the Norse contacted—Tuniit, Inuit and Beothuks alike. Archeological evidence suggests that the Tuniit had abandoned Greenland around 200. They reoccupied areas in the far north of Greenland sometime around 1000, but the Norse settlements were in the south and southwest of the island. It is likely that the area of the Norse settlements was unoccupied at the time they arrived.

Sometime in the 13th century, Inuit began arriving from what is now Canada. Norse accounts are scant, and there is no Inuit oral history discussing contact with the Norse. However, Norse-made items have been found at Inuit campsites in Greenland. It is unclear whether they are the result of trade or plunder. One old account speaks of "small people" with whom the Norsemen fought. Ívar Bárðarson's [2] 14th century account mentions that one of the two Norse settlement areas—the western settlement—had been taken over by the skrælings. The reason why the Norse settlements failed is unclear, but the last record of them is from 1408—roughly the same period as the earliest Inuit settlements in east Greenland.

After roughly 1350, the climate grew colder during the Little Ice Age and the Inuit were forced to abandon hunting and whaling sites in the high Arctic. Bowhead whaling disappeared in Canada and Greenland (but continued in Alaska) and the Inuit had to subsist on a much poorer diet. Without whales, they lost access to essential raw materials for tools and architecture that were derived from whaling. Although the Inuit had always been nomadic, they were forced to move more and more often to maximise their return from hunting. Semi-permanent sod and whalebone dwellings were replaced by what has now become the symbol of the Inuit in many minds: temporary snow houses known as igloos.

The changing climate forced the Inuit to also look south, pressuring them into the marginal niches along the edges of the tree line that Indians had not occupied, or where they were weak enough to coexist with. It is hard to say with any precision when the Inuit stopped their territorial expansion. There is evidence that they were still moving into new territory in southern Labrador in the 17th century, when they first began to interact with colonial North American civilization.

[edit] Inuit since the arrival of Europeans

[edit] Canada

The lives of Paleo-Eskimos of the far north were largely unaffected by the arrival of visiting Norsemen except for mutual trade (McGhee 1992:194). In the centuries to follow Inuit contact with explorers varied across the Arctic. Labrador Inuit have had the longest continuous contact with Europeans (Kleivan 1966:9). After the disappearance of the Norse colonies in Greenland, the Inuit had no contact with Europeans for at least a century. By the mid-16th century, Basque fishermen were already working the Labrador coast and had established whaling stations on land, such as been excavated at Red Bay. The Inuit appear not to have interfered with their operations, but they raided the stations in winter for tools, and particularly worked iron, which they adapted to native needs.

Martin Frobisher's 1576 search for the Northwest Passage was the first well-documented post-Columbian contact between Europeans and Inuit. Frobisher's expedition landed on Baffin Island, not far from the town now called Iqaluit, but long known as Frobisher Bay. This first contact went poorly. Martin Frobisher, attempting to find the Northwest Passage, encountered Inuit on Resolution Island. Five sailors jumped ship and became part of Inuit mythology. The homesick sailors, tired of their adventure, attempted to leave in a small vessel and vanished. Frobisher brought an unwilling Inuk to England, doubtless the first Inuk ever to visit Europe. The Inuit oral tradition, in contrast, recounts the natives helping Frobisher's crewmen, who believed they had been abandoned.

The semi-nomadic eco-centred Inuit were fishers and hunters harvesting lakes, seas, ice platforms and tundra. While there are some allegations that Inuit were hostile to early French and English explorers, fishers and whalers, more recent research suggests that the early relations whaling stations along the Labrador coast and later James Bay were based on a mutual interest in trade (Mitchell 1996:49-62). In the final years of the 18th century, the Moravian church began missionary activities in Labrador, supported by the British who were tired of the raids on their whaling stations. The Moravian missionaries could easily provide the Inuit with the iron and basic materials they had been stealing from whaling outposts—materials whose real cost to Europeans was almost nothing, but whose value to the Inuit was enormous—and from then on contacts in Labrador were far more peaceful.

The European arrival caused a great deal of damage to the Inuit way of life, causing mass death through new diseases introduced by whalers and explorers, and enormous social disruptions caused by the distorting effect of Europeans' material wealth. Nonetheless, Inuit society in the higher latitudes had largely persisted in isolation in the 19th century. Hudson's Bay Company opened trading posts such as Great Whale River (1820), today called Kuujjuarapik, where whale products of the commercial whale hunt were processed and furs traded. The British Naval Expedition (1821-3) led by Admiral Parry, which twice overwintered in Foxe Basin, provided the first informed, sympathetic and well-documented account of the economic, social and religious life of the Inuit. Parry stayed in Igloolik over the second winter. Parry's writings with pen and ink illustrations of Inuit everyday life (1824) and those of Lyon (1824) were widely read (D'Anglure 2002:205). Captain Comer's Inuit wife Shoofly known for her sewing skills and elegant attire (Driscoll 1980:6) was influential in convincing him to acquire more sewing accessories and beads for trade with Inuit. A few traders and missionaries circulated among the more accessible bands, and after 1904 they were accompanied by a handful of policemen. Unlike most Aboriginal peoples in Canada, however, the lands occupied by the Inuit were of little interest to European settlers. While southerners consider the Arctic as a hostile hinterland, to the Inuit it is their homeland. Southerners enjoyed lucrative careers as bureaucrats and service providers in the north, but very few southerners chose to retire there. In the early years of the 20th century, Canada, with its more hospitable lands largely settled, began to take a greater interest in its more peripheral territories, especially the fur and mineral rich hinterlands. By the late 1920s, there were no longer any Inuit who had not been contacted by traders, missionaries or government agents. In 1939, the Supreme Court of Canada found in Re Eskimos that the Inuit should be considered Indians and were thus under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Native customs were worn down by the actions of police—who enforced Canadian criminal law on Inuit who often could not understand what they had done wrong—and by missionaries who preached a moral code very different from the one they were used to.

World War II and the Cold War made Arctic Canada strategically important for the first time and, thanks to the development of modern aircraft, accessible year-round. The construction of airbases and radar stations in the 1940s and 50s brought more intensive contacts with European society, particularly in the form of public education, which instilled and enforced foreign values disdainful of the traditional structure of Inuit society. By 1953, Canada's prime minister Louis St. Laurent publicly admitted, "Apparently we have administered the vast territories of the north in an almost continuing absence of mind." (Parker 1996:32) The government began to establish about forty permanent administrative centres to provide education, health and economic development services for Inuit (Parker 1996:32). Inuit from hundreds of smaller camps scattered across the north, began to congregate in these hamlets (Mitchell 1996:118).

Furthermore, regular visits from doctors and access to modern medical care raised the birth rate enormously. Before long, the Inuit population was beyond what traditional hunting and fishing could support. By the mid-1960s, encouraged first by missionaries, then by the prospect of paid jobs and government services, and finally forced by hunger and required by police, all Canadian Inuit lived year-round in permanent settlements. The nomadic migrations that were the central feature of Arctic life had for the most part disappeared. The Inuit, a once self-sufficient people in an extremely harsh environment, were in the span of perhaps two generations transformed into a small, impoverished minority lacking skills or resources to sell to the larger economy, but increasingly dependent on it for day to day survival.

Although anthropologists like Diamond Jenness (1964) were quick to predict that Inuit culture was facing extinction, Inuit political activism was already emerging as he wrote those words.

In the 1960s, the Canadian government funded the establishment of secular, government-operated high schools in the Northwest Territories and Inuit areas in Quebec and Labrador. The Inuit population was not large enough to support a full high school in every community, so this meant only a few schools were built, and students from across the territories were boarded there. These schools, in Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Kuujjuaq, brought together young Inuit from across the Arctic in one place for the first time, and exposed them to the rhetoric of civil and human rights that prevailed in Canada in the 1960s. This was a real wake-up call for Inuit, and it stimulated the emergence of a new generation of young Inuit activists in the late 1960s who came forward and pushed for respect for the Inuit and their territories.

The Inuit began to emerge as a political force in the late 1960s and early 1970s, shortly after the first graduates returned home. They formed new politically active associations in the early 1970s, starting with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami in 1971, and more region specific organizations shortly afterwards, including the Northern Quebec Inuit Association and the Labrador Inuit Association. These activist movements began to change the direction of Inuit society in 1975 with the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. This comprehensive land claims settlement for Quebec Inuit, along with a large cash settlement and substantial administrative autonomy in the new region of Nunavik, set the precedent for the settlements to follow. The Labrador Inuit submitted their land claim in 1977, although they had to wait until 2005 to have a signed land settlement establishing Nunatsiavut.

In 1982, the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut (TFN) was incorporated, in order to take over negotiations for land claims on behalf of the Northwest Territories Inuit from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which became a joint association of the Inuit of Quebec, Labrador and the Northwest Territories.

The TFN worked for ten years and, in September 1992, came to a final agreement with the government of Canada. This agreement called for the separation of the Northwest Territories into an eastern territory whose only aboriginal population would be Inuit—the future Nunavut—and a rump Northwest Territories in the west. It was the largest land-claims agreement in Canadian history. In November 1992, the Nunavut Final Agreement was approved by nearly 85 percent of the Inuit of what would become Nunavut. As the final step in this long process, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was signed on May 25, 1993 in Iqaluit by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and by Paul Quassa, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, which replaced the TFN with the ratification of the Nunavut Final Agreement. The Canadian Parliament passed the supporting legislation in June of the same year, enabling the 1999 establishment of Nunavut as a territorial entity.

The Inuvialuit are western Canadian Inuit who remained in the Northwest Territories when Nunavut split off. They are officially represented by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and received a comprehensive land claims settlement in 1984, with the signature of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement.

With the establishment of Nunatsiavut in 2005, all the traditional Inuit lands in Canada are now covered by some sort of land claims agreement providing for regional autonomy.

Inuit communities in Canada continue to suffer under crushing unemployment, overcrowded housing, substance abuse, crime, violence and suicide. The problems Inuit face in the 21st century should not be underestimated. However, many Inuit are upbeat about the future. Arguably, their situation is better than it has been since the 14th century. Inuit arts—carving, print making, textiles and throat singing—are very popular, not only in Canada but globally, and Inuit artists are widely known. Indeed, Canada has, metaphorically, adopted some of the Inuit culture as a sort of national identity, using Inuit symbols like the inukshuk in unlikely places, such as its use as a symbol of Vancouver's Olympic bid for 2010. Respected art galleries display Inuit art, the largest collection of which is at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The Inuit language—Inuktitut—is secure in Quebec and Nunavut. There are a surprising number of Inuit, even those who now live in urban centres such as Ottawa, Montreal and Winnipeg, who have experienced living on the land in the traditional life style. Sarah Ekoomiak, who was born in the 1930s saw her first building in Kuujuurapik when she was ten years old. Inuit culture is alive and vibrant today in spite of the negative impacts of recent history.

[edit] Greenland

See also: History of Greenland

The Thule people arrived in Greenland in the 13th century. There they encountered the Norse, who had established colonies there since the late 10th century, as well as a later wave of the Dorset people.

[edit] Alaska

See also: List of Native Alaskan Tribal Entities

[edit] Future prospects

In recent years, circumpolar cultural and political groups like the Inuit Circumpolar Conference have come together to promote the Inuit and other northern people and to fight against ecological problems, such as global warming, which disproportionately affects the Inuit population. Global warming will likely also cause Arctic mammal populations to decline.

[edit] Modern Inuit culture

An important bi-annual event, the Arctic Winter Games, is held in communities across the northern regions of the world, featuring traditional Inuit and northern sports as part of the events. A cultural event is also held. The games were first held in 1970, and while rotated usually among Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, they have also been held in Schefferville, Quebec in 1976, in Slave Lake, Alberta, and a joint Iqaluit, Nunavut-Nuuk, Greenland staging in 2002.

One of the most famous Inuit artists is Pitseolak Ashoona. Susan Aglukark is a popular Canadian singer. In 2002 the feature film Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner directed by Zacharias Kunuk (with all dialogue in the Inuktitut language and written, filmed, produced, directed, and acted almost entirely by Inuit of Igloolik) was released world wide to great critical and popular acclaim. Jordin Tootoo became the first Inuk to play in the National Hockey League in the 2003-04 season, playing for the Nashville Predators. Well-known Inuit politicians include Premier Paul Okalik of Nunavut and Nancy Karetak-Lindell, MP for the riding of Nunavut. Also, Mitiarjuk Attasie Nappaaluk is helping to preserve the Inuit language, Inuktitut. She wrote the first Inuit novel. (to do list: culture past and present, spirituality, customs, etc)

In 2006, Cape Dorset, Nunavut was hailed as Canada's most artistic city, with 22% of the population employed in the arts. (CBC) Inuit art such as soapstone carvings is one of Nunavut's most important industries.

A series of publications has focussed upon increasing myopia in the youngest generations of Inuit. Myopia was almost unknown prior to the Inuit adoption of western culture. This phenomenon is also seen in other cultures (for example, Vanatu). Principal theories are change to less nutritious western style diet, and exposure to over-illumination in intense early grade education[3].

[edit] Inuit economy today

Today, Inuit work in all sectors of the economy, including mining, oil and gas, construction, government and administrative services. Many Inuit still supplement their income through hunting. Tourism is a growing industry in the Inuit economy. Inuit guides take tourists on dogsled and hunting expeditions, and work with outfitting organizations. About 30 percent of Inuit derive part-time income from their sculpture, carving and print making.

The settlement of land claims in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Northern Quebec has given the Inuit money and a framework to develop and expand economic development activities. New emerging businesses include real estate, tourism, airlines and offshore fisheries.

[edit] Trivia

  • Lieb et al. (1926) published a case study of anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson who lived with a group of Inuit.[4] The study focused on the fact that the Inuit's extremely low-carbohydrate diet had not had an adverse affects on Stefansson's health (nor that of the Inuit). This study and the Inuit in general have been cited as support for low-carbohydrate diets for many years.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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